Name: Idris Haron
Constituency: Tangga Batu
Years as MP: Since 2004
Government position: None
• Supreme council member
• Tangga Batu division chief
Membership in parliamentary committees or caucuses:
• International Affairs Caucus member
• Women’s Caucus member
Blog/Website: Facebook – Idris Haron
Would you support the abolition/review of the Internal Security Act (ISA), in particular the provision that allows for detention without trial? Why or why not?
I would support a review of the ISA, the reason being that the law was intended to fight the communist threat. But now, after more than 50 years of independence, the country is more aware about human rights whereby detention should be conducted through proper and acceptable procedures.
On the other hand, I still think we need laws or some kind of process against subversive or underground elements that act in ways that disrupt the nation’s harmony and peace. But these laws must ensure that the detention process is transparent. The detainee’s closest next-of-kin must be told of the detention and the reasons for detention.
Meaning to say, any review must curb harassment; the reasons for arrest must be made known to the detainees and their next-of-kin; and the purpose of detaining the suspect is not to punish him [or her] but to re-orientate them about how Malaysia is different and complex because it is a plural and multiethnic country. We have to manage a lot of diversity among people here. We are gifted with this diversity, but we need to prevent seditious elements and disharmony from destabilising the country.
Do you think Malaysia should be a secular or an Islamic state? Why?
Malaysia is a multiracial, pluralistic country. We need the best way to manage and administer a country with so much complexity. Islam, to Muslims, is the best way. In Islam there are ways and means for us to practise tolerance and acceptance. There are values we uphold like peace, freedom from fear, harmony, looking for commonalities, minimising differences – these are all in Islam.
Islam has to be seen and appreciated in the correct way. It is a worldwide phenomenon now to have negative perceptions of Islam as a disunited and violent religion. We must move away from these perceptions and see that the Islam which has ruled the country for the past 52 years has made the country stand tall today. For the past 52 years, it has been the best way of administering and governing the country. We have enjoyed it till now, when there are elements or quarters with ill-intentions who wish to destabilise the country. These are Muslims who think they are more Islamic than the rest.
How do you define your role as an elected MP? Does Parliament provide you with the necessary infrastructure and support to fulfill your role?
Democratically elected MPs are chosen by the majority of the people, and so the majority’s wishes and wants must be appreciated. As an MP I have to, as much as possible, perform my level best in delivering services, in listening to the people’s needs and wants, and in meeting their expectations.
At the same time, I have to assure the minority that they will not be forgotten. Their voice needs to be heard. They are valued as part of our decision-making, where we need to listen to all sides whether positive or negative. However, we cannot please everyone because we are dealing with humans who have different backgrounds and experiences. It is the MP’s challenge to hear all sides and find consensus.
I would say that as an elected MP, even those who didn’t vote for me have also contributed to what I am today, to the betterment of my role.
As to Parliament providing the necessary support, there is always room for improvement. At the moment, I would rate it 7.5 out of 10. Maybe every MP should be provided with an office cubicle and one permanent assistant to keep MPs updated with information, not only about the latest in Malaysia but throughout the world.
Parliament is listening to MPs’ grouses, and trying its level best to equip us with research officers and with information communication technology facilities. I also know our MPs are among the lowest paid in terms of salaries and allowances. Parliament is trying its best to fulfill MPs’ needs and has plans for MPs to enjoy the level of facilities that parliaments in other countries are enjoying.
Would you support a Freedom of Information Act? Why or why not?
I always believe freedom is not absolute until it is controlled. How free is free? There must be an element of control. The spirit of any enactment must contain some element of control so people will not misuse it.
With regards to information, we must be able to determine which is the right and current information, and which information sources are legitimate. Who certifies that the news is right? Who updates the information and ensures that it is correct? People need to assess information critically – who will guide this?
A Freedom of Information Act needs a certain element of control to check the accuracy and precision of information. Any such Act has to be debated in the House and attention must be given to the details. On one hand, we want information to be disseminated, but on the other hand, we want only precise, accurate information. This is to prevent information from being manipulated. Intentions for such an Act may be good, but there will always be people seeking to manipulate it.
If there was one thing you could do to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Malaysia, what would it be?
I would say that we are doing alright now, or else people would not come out to vote during elections.
Achieving a 75% voter turnout or more [shows that] democracy is really happening here. I think our Election Commission (EC) has performed well so far. The fact that there are states ruled by the opposition indicates that the EC is independent. [Not just recently, but] Kelantan has been under the opposition for the last 22 years, and Sabah, too, at one time. And we see many opposition candidates winning at general elections and in by-elections. This is evidence that there is democracy.
Do you believe in separation of powers between the executive, Parliament and judiciary? Why or why not?
Yes, I believe the executive, Parliament and judiciary must have separation of powers and independence to perform their functions. At the same time, they should be answerable to the people. If not the people, there is the Yang DiPertuan Agong.
Parliamentarians are the lawmakers and cannot go against the laws that we make. The judiciary implements and upholds the law. The executive, led by the prime minister and elected by the people, must also uphold all laws approved by the two Houses of Parliament. The Westminster model has worked well for us. Given the complexities of having a plural society, our parliamentary democracy model has done well to [strengthen] the country.
For other MP responses, see Full MP list
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